In December, I found myself overwhelmed after committing to host five parties in our home. Fortunately, many friends volunteered to help out.
One bitterly cold day, my cellphone rang. The caller was nearly three decades my senior. A child of the Depression, this woman made a habit of washing and saving all reusable plastic fast-food containers.
"You might want to fill some of the red containers I've saved with wrapped chocolates," she suggested. Genius!
"I'll be right over," I said, unsure of how I would fit in a trip to her house along with my commitments for the day. "No problem," she said. "My driver and I will be right there."
This self-sufficient woman had never before had a "driver." But a nice young man had begun helping her with gardening and driving her to-and-fro since she had experienced serious health issues.
Mrs. Emma Bingham, who we affectionately called "Miss Emma," was frugal, helpful, and would not want anyone making a fuss about her. When I broke my foot last summer, she cheered me with visits, and never arrived empty-handed.
One day she came bearing homemade beans and corn bread. "Careful, it's hot," she said. "Can't stay. I've got a few more things to deliver."
And away she went.
Her kindness was genuine and her friendship was sincere.
Our lives first crossed about 25 years ago. It was my first visit to the church where she had belonged since moving from Oklahoma to Texas to marry Jim Bingham. She immediately became active at the church - teaching, being a friend, encouraging and always taking the high road.
There is so much to tell about this stately lady. She lost her first husband when she was a young woman. The year was 1957, and she was a 30-something widow with an adolescent son to raise.
As fate would have it, she met Jim, a bachelor, when he visited the Oklahoma turkey farm where she lived. He was sent there to purchase turkeys for his family's turkey farm in Denton.
After they married, she moved to Denton. Her new family adored her young son, Wady Hilton, who attended Denton High School and later married Betty Geesling of Denton.
Miss Emma found it inoffensive to toil along with the menfolk at church. She was just as at ease wearing a pair of overalls, swinging a hammer to help remodel one of the older buildings as she was wearing her Sunday best, teaching a Sunday school class the next day.
I don't think there was a card game she didn't like. She asked everyone she met to join her and won over a few resistant souls to enjoying cards along with her.
When her husband passed away, idleness did not become her friend. She visited the sick, continued to enjoy her family, made her plants thrive and helped the needy.
Several years ago, Miss Emma became very ill. While she recovered, I had a quiet and special visit with her. When it was my time to leave, she looked at me and said: "We have lots of work to do."
Her words struck a nerve. Miss Emma regained some of her strength from that illness and returned home. Although she began walking with a cane, she now found work that matched her energy and health. I observed her quiet trust in the God whom she served.
We will miss Mrs. Emma Bingham, who died Jan. 6, just two months after her 89th birthday. If I'd had the opportunity to visit her before she departed, I suppose she would again have reminded me, "We have lots of work to do."
I'm not sure my energy level will ever match hers. I do see the work to be done. I only hope others will follow her example.
What a classy lady she was. She never wasted what most of us discard. More importantly, she never wasted a single moment of her life.
PAM RAINEY is a 40-year Denton resident and a real estate agent who has helped many seniors make decisions about living arrangements. You can reach her with suggestions at RpmRny@cs.com or 940-367-1188.